It’s almost that time! Fire up your lawnmowers and weed whips, the grass is starting to green up and grow. From my experience, there are two different types of turf people, those who care about their turf and those who don’t. It is common to see pristine lawns in suburban areas, but once you get into more rural areas, the lawns get too large to care about issues. I will admit, my lawn has some nice areas, but some areas have undesirable grasses and weeds. Because my lawn is so large, I cannot treat every problem area like a smaller lot. Honestly, as long as it is green most of the year, I am happy. I would love to have a beautiful, lush, green lawn, but it takes time, effort and money to maintain turf.
If you are starting a new piece of turf, there are some steps you will need to follow to establish a healthy lawn. First, you will need weed-free topsoil leveled and graded to the desired slope a grade of the yard. Use a rake to remove any rocks and sticks that may cause problems when mowing. Once the soil is raked, you will want to use a hand spreader or push spreader to apply the correct ratio of seed. When choosing seed for your lawn, you need to think about the amount of sunlight and how much traffic it is going to receive on a daily basis. There are specialty seed mixes made for shade or sun, and some grass varieties can tolerate more traffic. If you do not choose the correct grass varieties for that area, the turf will decline and weedy species will move in.
- For sunny areas, look for seed mixes with Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue.
- For shaded areas, look for seed mixes with Creeping Bent Grass and Fine Fescues and Ryegrass.
Once the seed is spread, observe the seed-to-soil contact. You want the seed to be touching the soil to be able to root in and receive moisture from the soil. You can use straw erosion blanket or shredded straw to keep the seed in place and prevent washouts. Once the straw is applied, water in the seed every day if you do not get any rain, or the soil dries out. After the seeds start to sprout, you can wean it off of watering. Once the new grass reaches about 3 inches, you can start to cut it. Use the “one-third rule” when cutting your grass to prevent damage or stress to plants.
In Spring, you will want to remove any unwanted debris left from trees and snowplows. Raking the areas removes the debris and unwanted thatch from the previous year’s growth. Spring is a great time to aerate your lawn, especially in compacted areas. You can reseed areas to prepare for summer and remove any unwanted weeds mechanically before the grass starts to emerge. You can apply a light fertilizer to kickstart the growth. Be careful if you choose to treat your lawns with herbicides because you do not want to hurt the pollinators that are buzzing about in spring. Here is a tip: if the weeds are blooming in your lawn, do not treat them at that time, you will poison the pollinators that are attracted to the weed’s flowers. In the summer, it is mostly maintenance at this point in the season with mowing and watering. Towards late summer into fall, some of the cool-season grasses go dormant because of the heat and warm-season varieties thrive. In fall, you can prepare the grass for winter with a winterizing fertilizer. Do not mow your lawn too short, or too close to snowfall because it could damage the grass blades.